This natural area aims to preserve the life of a sea bird species that land on the Argentinian coast every year to carry out their reproduction cycle.
Even if Punta Tombo Reserve
is in the outskirts of Camarones
, this is one of the most popular tours among visitors to the area, as it promises one of the most fascinating shows of nature.
We resolved to drive to the penguin colony very early on a sunny spring day. We traveled along the gravel road very cautiously as we contemplated that arid and inhospitable zone.
As we accessed the reserve, we were moved to see the immense amount of penguins nesting there and experiencing life naturally, unaware of the presence of humans.
Accompanied by a local guide, we went around the colony and observed the area teeming with caves and the activities carried out by these birds. While some of them dug their caves, others moved from one place to another leaving their chicks behind, fought for their territory or headed for the sea in search of food.
They place their eggs inside the caverns. As the eggs hatch, they take care of their young. We were told that the male is somewhat taller than the female. The latter lay their eggs early in October and brood for 40 days. Both parents watch the nest and their offspring jointly.
Punta Tombo is defined as a 3-kilometer long and 600-meter wide piece of land sticking out to sea, featuring beaches made of sand, clay and gravel. The penguins constantly cross this territory to dive into the sea and catch the anchovy and small squid they like so much.
“The reserve used to be part of estancia La Perla
. Its owners, Luis and Francisco La Regina, donated it to the government of Chubut
to be transformed into a protected natural area”, the guide explained.
But the penguins are not the only dwellers of the coast ecosystem. Other sea birds have chosen this space to develop their life cycles quietly. Grey kelp gulls, cormorants, rock shags, steamer ducks and several terns and petrels nest in the area.
Punta Tombo Reserve is a tourist destination itself. The unusual concentration of bird fauna and the easy observation are mighty attractions for the thousands of Argentinian and foreign visitors that come along every season.
On the way back to Camarones, we were feeling tired but satisfied after the long journey along desert roads. The pleasant memory of these birds, their peculiar gait and plumage resembling a tuxedo remained with us.
Duration: 3 hours
Opening hours: The reserve is closed from late April to the first fortnight of September.
How to get here: Leave Camarones following Provincial Route 30 and then turn into Provincial Route 1 up to the reserve, which lies 150 kilometers away.
It is advisable not to surpass 60 kilometers per hour as the road is made of gravel and speeding is dangerous.
Bear in mind: Do not stand in the way of penguin to avoid disturbing them or being pecked at. For the same reason, do not approach their heads with your cameras.
Cooperate by keeping this space clean. Carry the rubbish you produce back with you.
Do not leave any traces of your presence in this place for the sake of wildlife and nature.
Remember that these animals have chosen this habitat for a very important life cycle.